Senior Inflexion Group Consultant Dorothea Gosling is passionate about Pursuit Marketing and recognises the opportunity it offers for ambitious B2B marketers with their eyes on the prize.
Pursuit Marketing (I prefer to call it that, and promise to follow up with a future blog post on why that is so) sits at the very sharp end of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). It focuses on a company’s largest and most strategic deals, but is not for the faint-hearted.
A lot rides on winning or losing a large deal. It can impact your company’s share price and make or break careers. With risk comes immense opportunities for marketers with a sharp understanding of commercials (not TV ads!) and stakeholders, and a keen sense for what kind of communications and marketing should surround complex and high value business proposals.
If you tick these boxes, Pursuit Marketing might be the next best step on your career journey to becoming a CMO or holding another senior position within a company. Why is this?
Due to the critical importance and the high value, you will work with some of the most senior sales, solutioning, finance, HR and commercial leaders in your company. And you will gain deep insights into how customers choose who they want to trust. It’s a rare opportunity to hone skills, insights and knowledge in a relatively short space of time. But the playing field factors must be met.
So what is different in Pursuit Marketing?
Understanding your point of departure, the goal, and the entire timeline and landscape in between is key. Watching a large deal team work through the various stages of a bid is like observing an intricate dance that involves your team, competitors, the buying centre, potentially a third party advisory firm (governing the process and stages), and any number of known and unknown influencers.
You’ll need to know when and when not to do something as well as what to do…
During certain phases of a large deal, no direct outreach to the customer of any kind may be permitted. Ignore this at your peril, as companies found in breach of this rule can find themselves removed from the bidding process. Not something you want attached to your name — so pay heed!
Differentiation is key
As a marketer, you will not only be focusing on positioning the overall value proposition, but also working with the deal team to ensure that you are differentiating against known competitors.
Stakeholder insight will be critical
You need a deep understanding of the stakeholder landscape; here you might be able to use what sales has already built. This is also a great opportunity to flex your marketing insights muscle and help complete the picture through additional research that should include information from your own marketing databases and website, as well as relevant third-party data. And remember, you’re not working with personas, you’re working with real people.
Once you understand all that, the real work begins!
Win themes, messaging and customised value propositions will need to be developed, and often a visual identity developed that forms the ‘glue’ throughout all material.
Next is a marketing and communications campaign that encompasses all channels, is tightly woven around the deal timeline and focuses on the key buying centre and influencers. Less is often more, or as David Ogilvy put it: “Don’t count the people you reach, reach the people that count!”
Which brings us to another difference. These campaigns don’t just run their course. As a marketer you need to be on top of and monitoring the performance of every measurable asset with a view to changing, pulling or replacing it. This should happen in close coordination with the sales leader. Throughout you will want to be providing frequent updates on the overall campaign performance to the sales team. This helps them gain insight into how their messaging is resonating, or not, and lets them tune their strategy.
And finally, be prepared for about-turns and rapid changes as the relationship between your company and the customer organisation evolves, and as you may need to react to an activity undertaken by your competitors.
Pursuit marketing is not for everyone; it requires a marketer to not only meet at eye-level with senior sellers; you will also need strong nerves, a thick skin — and a good sense of humour!
So might this be your next career goal?